Wiggling, talking, whining, disobeying—the struggle is real. What struggle? The difficult task of sitting everyone down for family devotions. Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes the effort doesn’t seem worth the payoff. My husband and I are always on a quest to find engaging ways to interact with our daughters about spiritual things. Usually we can incorporate these conversations into everyday life, but we also like to strive for some semblance of a family devotional time.
Over the years, we’ve tried many different ideas for “Family Devotions” and there is one thing we’ve learned: family devotions are hard! Hard to keep consistent, hard to find time for, and hard to keep capturing our children’s attention. Our belief in the importance of a structured family Bible study is what keeps us going. After all, “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow,” (Hebrews 4:12, NLT).
Here are three truths that have helped us as we continue to stretch and grow with our Bible time:
- A devotional time doesn’t need to look the same for every family. Are the Browns learning Greek together? Great for them! Perhaps the Waltons are memorizing the entire Old Testament, that’s wonderful! I’m working on keeping my kids in one place for three verses, and possibly even being respectful during the prayer time… Maybe you are a devotions-every-day family, or maybe you are Sunday-night-devotions family. The point is, do what works for your family in whatever season you are in.
- Try to make your children active participants. When your kiddos are little, this could be as simple as having them say a short prayer. As they get older, they can read a Scripture verse, and when they are older yet, perhaps they could even plan the devotional.
- Variety is the spice of life. Try new things with your family. We’ve held our devotional time in a variety of locations: at our local ice cream shop, in our living room, at the breakfast table, in the car, and at the park, to name a few. We’ve used many formats: devotional books, conversation starter questions, Bible reading apps, and online videos. Your kids will stay engaged when you change things up. And, let’s face it, we get bored sometimes too. A change of pace keeps things interesting and fun.
Maybe you are wondering, “Where do I even start?” Here are some resources we’ve used and loved:
The Jesus Storybook Bible This book, hands down, is one of my favorites. The text is easy to read and understand for adults and kids alike, the pictures are engaging and whimsical, and the theme of God’s love running through the stories keep the reader’s focus on what is important. Great for little kids. Also try Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing by the same author.
Little Visits With God is packed with 200 short devotional thoughts for you and your family to read together. Each entry features a story that illustrates the biblical truth being presented. Engaging and memorable, these little tales encourage children to personalize the lesson without being too preachy. Also included in each lesson is a Scripture passage, discussion questions, and a closing prayer. Little Visits is designed with kids aged 7 to 10 in mind. Our daughters are a little older than that. I would say a range from 5 to 12 years old could easily be accommodated by this devotional.
A great resource for tweens, The One Year “Did You Know” Devotions gives a fun fact, a Bible verse, and an applicable Scriptural teaching. If you ever wanted to know which city is home to the most bats, or how the first sports drink was connected to alligators, this devotional is for you!
For older kids, try The One Year Daily Acts of Kindness Devotional: 365 Inspiring Ideas to Reveal, Give, and Find God’s Love. This devotional features a bite-sized devotional reading every day and ends each reading with a practical way to show kindness to those around you. Teens need kindness! Encourage your teen to cultivate kindness in their own life.
The Bible Project: https://thebibleproject.com
Ever find yourself wondering “what is the deal with this passage of Scripture?” The Bible Project can probably help. A team of Bible scholars put together animated videos (think visual storytelling, not VeggieTales) that explain biblical themes, explore Hebrew words, and examine biblical books in depth. Watch a video for a short and simple devotional time with teens and adults. If you want a longer Bible study watch the video and go through the questions provided for even more insight.
The Bible App: https://www.youversion.com
Our family loves the Bible App by YouVersion. You can access hundreds of Bible versions in hundreds of languages. One feature our family has come to enjoy is the shared devotional reading plan. These plans allow you to follow the same Scripture and devotional readings as everyone in your group, and there is a space where you can post comments about what you’ve learned through that day’s designated passage. The Bible App and all its features are completely free. There is also an online version for any of us who don’t have smartphones: Bible.com
What are your tips for a successful family devotion time?